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County to build public safety antenna on Old Medlock Bridge

City opts for one taller tower over two smaller ones

June 17, 2014
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. Johns Creek is going ahead with plans to build a 400-foot public safety radio antenna tower on property at 9855 Old Medlock Bridge Road, which is near the old Warsaw Elementary School and is described as a commercial area.

The antenna is part of the new countywide public safety radio net for police, fire and emergency personnel, now that the county's current system is at "end of life" and must be replaced.

The other cities of Roswell, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Milton and Mountain Park have opted to build a separate radio net that will "talk" to the countywide system. Johns Creek decided it was cheaper in the long run to be part of the county net than come up with the $2 million buy-in paid upfront to join the North Fulton net.

The $508,328 cost of the antenna will be paid by Fulton County but reimbursed by the city. Johns Creek will then own the tower and may derive revenue from leasing space on the tower to communications companies.

"This was not a budget item, but it comes out of the city's fund reserve," said Finance Director Monte Vavra.

The city has around $29 million in its fund reserve.

Engineering Associates Inc. is the city's consultant on the project. Wireless Systems Manager Mike McGannon said the protocol with Fulton County would be for 10 years and renewable for 20 years more.

"It's a 30-year platform," McGannon said.

Mayor Mike Bodker said the choice was one 400-foot tower at Old Medlock Bridge Road or two 200-foot towers in other locations in the city.

"I think we impact the city less with one tower. I'm told we could reduce the height to 200 feet, but then we would need an additional one, possibly two towers throughout the city," said Bodker.

"This new tower will ensure that the voice needs of our police officers, EMTs and firefighters will have immediate radio contact. This tower will give us that," he said.

The Fulton School Board also has concerns that school police officers should be able to have radio signals that penetrate school walls in all locations. This tower should ensure that.

The city and county have entered into an intergovernmental agreement to complete the project to assure the safety of the citizens and the reliable dispatch of first responders in emergencies.

Using the Motorola system will also ensure Johns Creek and its mutual aid partners in Forsyth, Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties will have unimpeded and direct radio contact.

MH 06-18-14

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Tags: Community & Outreach, Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    June 29, 2014 | 11:52 AM

    What was the basis for the decision?

    An observer
    Johns Creek
  2. report print email
    Good move
    June 29, 2014 | 08:46 PM

    This is a great step forward for improving public safety radio communications in North Fulton.

    The existing analog 800MHz Smartnet system was built in 1991. It lacks portable coverage, is unreliable, and support for it is long over by it's vendor. It has served the county and cities well, but it long time for a replacement.

    While some who are not versed in land mobile radio may feel a 400 foot tower is excessive, considering the terrain of the area and the needed coverage, it is actually modest.

    Land mobile radio systems use fewer tower sites than cellular systems, and require larger ones for wide area and penetrating coverage. Public safety tower sites are also hardened for physical security reasons and are built to withstand the rigors of extreme weather. Remember that public safety radio systems are VITAL and MUST WORK when consumer cellular based networks are unavailable, as often happens in the wake of disasters such as tornadoes, floods and other events.

    Erik Bagby
    Smyrna, GA
  3. report print email
    If this is true
    June 29, 2014 | 09:57 PM

    then why are they having a special meeting on Monday to discuss other options ?

    Susan Sanders
    Johns Creek
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